18 May 2020

Catch me if you can

Updating the Eastern Partnership Association Agreements and DCFTAs

Guillaume Van der Loo / Tinatin Akhvlediani

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The subject of this study is the progress achieved so far in updating the Association Agreements (AAs) and their Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Areas (DCFTAs) with Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia to catch up with EU law.

These Agreements oblige the partner countries to implement a significant part of the EU’s acquis in their domestic legal order. However, since the AAs and DCFTAs were negotiated before 2013, the EU acquis that is annexed to the Agreements has mostly been amended or replaced at EU level, and is therefore outdated.

This paper analyses the key features of the AAs as regards legislative approximation, focusing on the procedures to ‘update’ the annexes. It then explores the technical options for broadening the scope of the approximation commitments, and market access beyond a mere technical update. This is followed by a chapter-by-chapter overview of the progress in updating the AAs and the relevant legislative developments at EU level.

The paper shows that some progress has been made to update the AAs (in particular in relation to the DCFTAs) but several crucial chapters still require a comprehensive update (e.g. services and establishment). It is also clear that this updating exercise is still not happening in a systematic and structured way but is rather fragmented – chapter by chapter and country by country. At EU level, the update of the agreements could benefit from a more integrated approach, incorporating these discussions into a more systematic dialogue with the partner countries, both bilaterally and jointly.